Magnetic Beads to Treat Heartburn and Acid Reflux

February 25, 2009

Researchers are evaluating a magnetic device that may provide a long-term solution for patients with GERD.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego Medical Center are evaluating a magnetic device that may provide a long-term solution for patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Called the LINX Reflux Management System, the device is made up of a series of magnetic beads created from permanent rare earth magnets that are encased in titanium and sized to fit individual patients. During a minimally invasive procedure that takes no longer than 20 or 30 minutes, the device is secured around the esophagus. The magnetic attraction between the beads supports the valve, which protects the esophagus from reflux, but still allows the esophagus to open for swallowing or releasing gas.

Santiago Horgan, MD, is the director of minimally invasive surgery at UC San Diego Medical Center and principal investigator. Horgan, the first surgeon in the western United States to use the LINX system in this clinical trial, is investigating a treatment that could potentially help the more than 20 million Americans who suffer from GERD.

“With medical therapy alone, the production of acid in the stomach is suppressed, but the actual problem of reflux remains,” Horgan said. “The most appropriate long-term therapy for GERD is to restore the body’s physiological barrier to correct the cause of reflux itself.”

Evaluation of the device is also being conducted in Europe and other centers around the US. The multi-center trial will evaluate the “safety and effectiveness of the device in up to 100 patients.”

“The goal of this clinical trial is to correct a defect in the lower esophagus so that the body can function naturally without pain or discomfort,” said Horgan.

specialty: gastroenterology